Bran Castle, often referred to as Dracula’s Castle, was built in 1377 to protect against invaders and also served as a customs station. The myth is that it was once the home of Vlad the Impaler, the famous medieval warlord, but there is no evidence that he ever lived there. The fictional character Dracula is based on Vlad and Vlad did spend two days in the Bran dungeon. Transylvania was occupied by the Ottoman Empire at the time. Vlad the Impaler (his favorite method of punishment was to impale anyone convicted of a crime, thus his nickname) used many methods of impaling: through the anus with the stick coming out the head; skewered through the middle of the body; and, of course, there were the other ever-popular methods of torture. You could be burnt at the stake, have eyes gouged out, head and limbs chopped off, or tied to different horse and then be ripped apart. It must have been difficult for Vlad to keep coming up with new methods and ideas…but he did…
Vlad also revenged the killing of his father and brother on Easter Day by impaling the entire elderly population of Targoviste.
A visit through Bran Castle’s rooms and towers, some rooms connected through underground passages, looked at the becautiful collection of furniture and art from the 14th-19th centuries. The castle was built on a 200-foot tall rock overlooking the Village of Bran and this was our second medievel experience of the day.
From Bran, we headed to beautiful Sighisoara, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns and almost everyone’s favorite. Ancient tiny houses on narrow streets, cobblestoned passageways and every kind of Dracula souvenir imaginable – Dracula restaurants, wine bottles with Dracula’s name and face on them, Dracula teeth, capes, strands of garlic, and the Dracula Internet cafe.
Sighisoara, which Vlad Tepes (Vlad Dracul) called home, is one of the seven fortified Saxon cities in Transylvania. The “Saxons” originally came from the Moselle region of Germany. The Clock Tower (Council Tower), built in the 14th Century, is one of Sighisoara’s most famous and picturesque attractions. The clock has little wooden figures that appear at certain times. This was the control tower of the main gate and had 7-foot thick walls. It was used to store ammunition, food reserves and treasures.
Sighisoara was the first place that we saw other Western tourists. It is on everyone’s itinerary if you are going to Romania. Many excellent cafes, horse drawn carriages, music, souvenir shops…a real highlight and you must admit, Sighisoara looked exactly like a movie set…
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